Helping Victims of Serious Bicycle Accidents in Fort Collins, Colorado
Bicycle accidents caused by negligent motor vehicle drivers often take lives. Those bicyclists who survive a collision with another vehicle typically suffer serious permanent injuries. When a motor vehicle strikes a bicycle, even at a slow rate of speed, the bicyclist is protected only by a helmet from deadly impacts with other vehicles and the pavement. The consequences commonly include paralysis, bone fractures, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and death.
No matter how careful a bicyclist is, accidents occur when drivers fail to pay attention and either do not see or fail to yield to a bicyclist, even though the cyclist had the right of way. When that happens, the injured bicyclist has the legal right to recover monetary damages from the negligent motor vehicle driver at fault for the accident.
If you suffered injuries in a vehicular accident while cycling, the experienced bicycle accident lawyers at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC can help. Our successes include recovering a $520,000 settlement for a Colorado cyclist who suffered multiple orthopedic injuries in a collision caused by a negligent driver, and we can assist you, too. Our knowledgeable team of Fort Collins personal injury lawyers can protect your rights and assist you in recovering just compensation from the negligent driver.
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What Are Some Causes of Bicycle Accidents?
In the most recent year that statistics are available, there were almost 140 bicycle accidents in Fort Collins alone. Several of those ended in incapacitation for the rider. Due to the unprotected nature of bikes, riders can be left incredibly injured after accidents. It’s important for all bike riders, casual or professional, to know what to watch out for while riding. Some of the most common causes of biking accidents include:
- Drivers not paying attention to the road around them
- Drivers failing to properly yield right of way to bicyclists
- Drivers taking unexpected or sudden turns while in front of bicyclists
- Drivers overtaking a bicyclist without providing enough distance between vehicles
- Drivers hitting bicyclists with their door
- Drivers rear ending a bicyclist
No matter what the cause of the accident, the driver will most likely not be harmed, whereas the bicyclist may be suffering from catastrophic injuries. That’s why it’s imperative that bike riders always pay close attention to the cars ahead, to the side of, and behind them. It can be difficult to remain safe on the road when biking, but car drivers are likely to not be attentive, as the risk to them is minimal.
What Are Common Injuries Sustained by Bicyclists?
Bikes are light and unprotected. Cars are thousands of pounds, have seat belts, airbags, and a protective wall of metal. When the two meet, the bike will lose every time. That means that bicyclists will often be left in a severely injured state. Some of the more common injuries caused by bike accidents are:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Broken, fractured, or crushed bones
- Road rash
- Spinal injuries
- Amputation or loss of limb
- Skull fractures
- Compartment syndrome
Any of these injuries could lead to a long hospital stay and a painful recovery period. Bikers should always wear safety equipment, such as helmets, and bring first aid kits with them so that they can treat minor wounds immediately. While these steps will not eliminate the chance of severe injury, they will lessen it.
Bicycle Operator Duties
Bicyclists on the roadway must comply with the same traffic laws applicable to motor vehicles. For example, bicyclists must operate their bicycles in the same direction as the traffic, stop at red lights and stop signs, and stop at crosswalks for pedestrians.
Bicyclists must also ride in designated bike lanes if one is available, wear helmets, use hand signals when slowing down and turning, and refrain from riding on highways and sidewalks.
The Duty of Care Owed to Bicyclists
Motor vehicle drivers owe a duty of care to bicyclists and other motor vehicle drivers on Fort Collins roadways. Because bicycles are much smaller and lighter than cars and trucks, a collision involving a car or truck is likely to knock the bicyclist to the ground, causing serious injuries.
Motor vehicle drivers owe a duty of care to operate their vehicles in a reasonably careful, prudent, and safe manner at all times. This includes constantly watching out for pedestrians and slow-moving vehicles, including bicycles. When motor vehicle drivers violate this “reasonableness” standard of care and cause a bicycle accident, they can legally be held accountable for any injuries and damages that result.
Motor vehicle drivers may breach the “reasonableness” standard of care in many ways, including:
- Speeding or violating a traffic law or rule of the road.
- Encroaching on a designated bike lane.
- Distracted driving or simply not paying attention to others on the road.
- Texting or talking on the phone while driving.
- Operating a vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol.
If a bicyclist can prove that a motor vehicle driver deviated from the applicable standard of care, then he or she has met part of the legal burden of proof in a negligence action. In addition, the injured bicyclist must show injuries and damages sustained as a result of the accident.
A skilled accident attorney may use expert testimony to prove your injuries and the full extent of your losses in a bicycle accident case. For example, an expert can show that the injured bicyclist did not suffer from a particular condition or ailment before the bicycle accident, but experienced consistent and painful injury symptoms afterward. An expert can also help establish that an accident would not have occurred but for the negligent acts of the driver. An experienced accident attorney also knows when to bring in investigators to determine if a driver was texting, talking on the phone, was drinking alcohol, or otherwise impaired prior to the accident, in order to establish liability.
If you have suffered injuries because of a negligent driver, do not delay. The law sets strict time limits on the amount of time you have to bring a claim. Contact the Fort Collins bicycle accident lawyers at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC to assist you with recovering compensation from the driver who hit you for all your losses.
What Damages May Be Available in Bike Accident Cases?
There are many damages, or areas requiring compensation, that someone involved in a bike accident can file for when making a claim. In the state of Colorado, you can claim for economic damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, lost ability to work, and property damage. There is no cap on economic damages.
Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and psychological trauma, can also be claimed. However, there is a cap of $250,000, unless there is clear evidence that more should be awarded, in which case the cap is $500,000. This can be difficult to prove, unfortunately.
The statute of limitations in Colorado for such incidents is 2 years. In the case that you are filing a claim against a city, county, or state, like if your injuries were caused by a city bus for example, then you only have 180 days before your time is up. It’s incredibly important to file a claim immediately. Don’t delay in contacting a highly skilled personal injury attorney. Two years can go by quickly when you’re dealing with the fallout of a severe injury.
Comparative Negligence Laws in Colorado
In Colorado, an injured bicyclist’s damages may be reduced if he or she caused or contributed to the accident. An injured bicyclist may contribute to an accident by riding outside of a designated bicycle lane (if one is available on that particular roadway) or by riding in an off-limits area, such as on a high-speed motorway, highway, or freeway.
Colorado law follows the doctrine of modified comparative fault, otherwise known as modified comparative negligence. Under this Colorado law, an injured bicyclist can recover damages in an accident case provided he or she is less than 50 percent at fault for the accident. If the injured bicyclist is more than 50 percent at fault, he or she may not recover damages.
If the injured bicyclist is less than 50 percent at fault, however, damages will simply be offset by the percentage he or she was at fault. For example, if the injured bicyclist was 20 percent at fault for the accident, and the driver was 80 percent at fault, then the injured cyclist can recover only 80 percent of the available damages. That means you may still be entitled to compensation under the law even if you were partly to blame for the accident—but you need an experienced attorney to assist in proving the degree of fault of the parties involved to best protect your rights and maximize your potential recovery.
Contact a Fort Collins Bicycle Accident Lawyer for a Free Legal Consultation
Bicycle accidents all too often cause fatalities or lifelong disabling injuries. When a reckless or negligent driver collides with a bicyclist, that driver should be held accountable to the full extent of the law.
If you’ve been injured, the experienced bicycle accident lawyers at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC can help ensure you obtain complete compensation. We offer accident victims a free consultation to discuss the circumstances of your accident and the legal options available to you. Our attorneys will take the time to answer your questions and help you navigate the best course of action in your case, including litigating your personal injury case through trial if necessary.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Fort Collins, Colorado bicycle accident lawyer, please call us today at (970) 212-4777 or contact us online.